Seeing It With New Eyes

You don’t need to look at the drop of water on your car roof, you’ve seen it a million times. But if you had to draw it, you’d have a hard time. We know what things look like in a general way, but the specifics will do us in. In addition to the specifics, we have certain expectations of water drops–we assume the light comes from above, so the highlights in a drop are around the curved part on top. So far, so good.

water dropExcept the image I had to draw from in tonight’s class was a second generation photocopy of a drop of water on metal. No color, just values and they had been distorted by the photocopy machine. The highlight was on one side, and the drop was probably not originally water, as it had a sharper profile than water.  And for the most of the class, I struggled with making the drop look round. It looked flat and lifeless.

Drawing was made more difficult not just because I didn’t have what I needed, but because to recognize a drop of water, I have to include certain things that make it recognizable–shape, reflection, color.

” The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes,” Marcel Proust wrote. And new eyes consist mostly of observation. How does this thing look in this light. What, exactly is it that makes the eye think it is round and wet.

And after a while, it emerged, looking as it should. Not because I was born talented. I was not. But because I used my eyes in new ways to see a new perspective.

–Image: “Drip,”  Quinn McDonald, colored pencil on110-lb.  Bristol Board. (c) 2008 All rights reserved.

–Quinn McDonald is an artist and certified creativity coach. She’s learned a lot about coaching in art class. Colored pencil drawings take time and patience, and often many false starts, just like real life. (c) 2008 All rights reserved.

One thought on “Seeing It With New Eyes

  1. Yes something so simple is yet so difficult to draw.

    What I admire the Old Masters for from the 17th century and before, is the fact that they were able to paint pearls, velvet, silk,lace, glass, gold, leather and so on in such a fine and almost perfect way.

    What a wonderful phrase by Marcel Proust!
    I would like to enlarge it, print it and put on a wall where I can see it daily.
    And I just decided that I will do so.

    —I’m so pleased that quote resonated with you, too! Draping in Old Master paintings (and even New Masters!), the cut glass dishes–all those very hard things to draw, fill me with awe. It’s even more amazing when sculptors do it! I told my teacher (who can capture textiles in wonderful ways), that I’d have to live in a place where there were no curtains or clothing, as draping is not my strength. She suggested practice as a more practical answer.

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